Blog: Dave LeggettThe car and freedom

Dave Leggett | 15 October 2015

I was at an industry conference a few days ago and the usual 'megatrends' were present in a number of presentations (typical buzz words and terms: 'urbanisation', 'megacities', 'digitisation', 'connectivity', 'autonomous', 'sharing economy', 'disruptors', 'new mobility' - you get the picture). Everyone in the industry is right to be considering these things and there are big implications, of course, for the way the structure of transportation (and companies, business models) will look in the future.

I have come across something thought provoking though, an opinion piece that comes at the subject from the opposite viewpoint. It considers how we will - with autonomous cars - potentially be losing something that is at the heart of our notions of freedom. Maybe it's howling at the moon, but it's an interesting piece reminding us of what the automobile has represented for so long. If you work for an OEM, maybe print it off and scribble the word 'DISCUSS' at the top and post it on a noticeboard in the R&D area or where bright young things do 'blue sky thinking' (promptly realises that such a low-tech thing as a physical noticeboard where you pin paper may well no longer exist).

The article is well worth a read over coffee for a reminder of the importance in Russia of the Fiat 124-derived Lada alone (having flashbacks to the 1980s movie of the book, 'Gorky Park'). As I am fond of saying, 'it's all relative'. Even bad cars can be coveted in the right circumstances and we are astonishingly fortunate to have the cars available to us that we have now. But might we be on the cusp of losing something valuable?

The war on the driver is a war on freedom – and autonomous cars are part of the problem

Sectors: Technology/R&D, Vehicle markets

Companies: Fiat

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